By Sue Ellen Woodcock
“I’ve lived through it all,” said Florence Bravos, as she got ready to watch her favorite television shows.
This Saturday her family will gather to celebrate her 100th birthday. She was born on Dec. 19, 1915 in the family home on Chester Avenue in Chelsea. The family of eight moved to Newfoundland soon after. At the age of 17, Bravos gave up her last year of high school and returned to Massachusetts. She had saved her money, enough to get her into hairdressing school. She had thought about becoming a seamstress but it was more expensive.
“I went to the hairdressing academy, Banford Academy,” Bravos said. “I did everything (cut hair, permanents, coloring). It was one of the best schools in Boston.”
She soon opened her own shop in Eggleston Square in Jamaica Plain. She then met her husband … not through friends, or at a club … he was her driver’s education teacher.
“He was a good looking guy, don’t you think,” she said looking at their photo. He was Michael Bravos, a Greek plumber from Lowell. They had a daughter, Joanne Perella, of Marshall Street. When they settled in Revere on Mountain Avenue over 50 years ago Florence’s husband made her a hair salon in the garage.
“He was a good man; couldn’t be any better. He did everything for me. The women used to come from Jamaica Plain to have their hair done,” she said. “The best part of hairdressing was making lots of friends.”
When she looks back she remembers a lot. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, the Internet, and big screen televisions. Her favorite President was Teddy Roosevelt. For years she was a Republican until a few years ago she switched to Democrat. Her favorite subject in school was Latin, and she can still congregate the verbs.
Bravos recalled her Saturday night ventures to the Rose Croix in Brighton, a dance hall
where square dancing was the norm. She never missed a night because she didn’t want to lose her spot.
“I had lots of friends,” Bravos said. “I never drank or smoked in my life.”
She did spend some time on Revere Beach and for years she would travel to Ormond Beach in Florida for vacation. Bravos admits that she is fond of gambling and used to travel to Foxwoods with her sister.
“I think I’ve had a good life,” Bravos said with a smile. Now it’s time for her to watch Dr. Phil and Judge Judy.